The Small Blue and other Happenings…

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This photo makes me smile. This is last years cub whom we have watched growing up and going about her daily business everyday since she first came above ground in early April last year. Its lovely to see her briefly in daylight.

Three new species of butterfly have been seen in the meadows in the last few days. The most exciting of these is the Small Blue, a rare and declining red listed species that requires shelter and abundant Kidney Vetch. We had a little colony of them here last year but it was a poor year for Kidney Vetch and so I worried that not much egg laying had gone on and that they wouldn’t be reappearing this year. Therefore, the sighting of this single male is a very welcome sight. We have loads of Kidney Vetch now (I planted some more last Autumn) and so, as long as its not just one male that we have, hopefully they are on course for a productive year.

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Small Blue
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Brown Argus
Large White
Large White

At the back of the hide pond I have planted Teasels, a native British plant with spiky flowerheads, beloved of Goldfinches.

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Teasels

The leaves form cups that capture pools of water:

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These pools of water remain for a considerable time – several days after a shower. While the grass and the earth become quite dry, the Teasel often still has a supply of water. This water has always been thought to have rejuvenating powers. In the 18th century, it was believed to remove freckles and it is apparently still being used as a soother for hayfevery itchy eyes.

Broomrape has become very noticeable in the meadows. These are a group of parasitic plants, with no chlorophyll, that feed off the roots of other plants. Some Broomrapes are very specific to a particular host, others are more generalists. We seem to have more than one species – there is this lovely yellow one growing prominently in a patch of red clover:

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And there is a purplish one, also seemingly growing in association with Clover:

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These are really interesting plants and I would love to be able to identify them more certainly. I have a plant key but somehow my eyes seem to glaze over as I try to use it. Several decades ago I got a Botany degree but there is little sign of that now – what a waste of taxpayers money.

The fourth dose of Turtle Dove feed has gone out onto the bare earth strip. Still not a sniff of a Turtle Dove but a largish flock of Linnets is there most of the time:

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I’ve put up 18 Linnets at one time as I’ve gone round. Also, the pair of Grey Partridge is there every day:

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In previous summers, we haven’t seen any Starlings. This year we have a little band of them here, maybe 8-10 birds, and they, too, have been using the strip:

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I have never seen a House Sparrow in the second meadow before, but here one is, standing on the strip:

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Last weekend, there was madness down at the pond as the Emperor dragonflies emerged. This weekend, its a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s parade comes the dustcart’. The empty shells of dragonfly nymphs clinging to reeds are waving disconsolately in the breeze:

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A quick estimate of emergences is up at about 100. We are now looking forward to seeing these dragonflies out and about around the meadows.

 

 

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